What is Dwell Time?

There is so much data and information available in the world of digital marketing that it’s tough to know what metrics are worth tracking and optimizing for, and which are “vanity metrics” and simply a waste of your time.

It just so happens that dwell time is one of the more important metrics that you should be paying attention to.

On this page, we’ll look at what dwell time is, how it affects your website, and how you can improve your users’ average dwell time.

If you want to get started improving your users’ dwell time, you can contact us online or call 888-601-5359 today to speak with one of our experts!

Understanding dwell time

Simply put, dwell time is how long a user spends on a given page before returning to the SERPS.

However, dwell time and “time on the page” are not always the same thing. This is a very significant distinction to make.

Time on page refers to the time a user spends on a given web page before navigating off of the page, anywhere else.

Dwell time, on the other hand, specifically refers to the time a user spends on a page before returning to the search results page.

This is why you have to be careful when looking at the “Time on page” metric available through many analytics platforms like Google Analytics.

Time on page is calculated based on two clicks. The first click is the user navigating to a given page, and the second click is the user navigating to a different page on your site.

If the second click does send the user back to the SERPs, or if there isn’t a “second click” (the user manually navigates to a different URL, closes the window, etc), the page’s bounce rate increases and Google reports the “time on page” as 0 – regardless of how long the user may have actually spent on that specific page.

It’s easy to see why this is problematic: If a user lands on one of your pages from the SERPs and spends thirty minutes consuming relevant, valuable, well-constructed content, but then hits the “back” button because his/her question was successfully answered by your page, your bounce rate will still go up. Plus, you won’t have an accurate time on page metric to work with.

Obviously, this isn’t a “true” bounce, because the user got exactly what they wanted from your page.

That’s why dwell time is so important. The thirty minutes that the user spent on your page is thirty minutes of dwell time, but won’t be recorded as thirty minutes of “time on page” by Google Analytics.

Does dwell time affect your rankings?

This question’s a bit up in the air, but there’s evidence that does support the idea of Google using dwell time as some sort of ranking signal.

A few years ago, Google introduced two features to the SERPs. First, certain search results offered the option for users to “Block all <website> results.”  Second, certain results appeared with a “More by…” section underneath them, listing additional articles by the same author.

While, again, it’s hard to know for sure, many SEO professionals believe both of those features were triggered based on dwell time.

A low dwell time would result in the option for users to “block all results” based on the assumption that low dwell time = unhelpful content.

Similarly, a higher dwell time rewarded authors for creating quality content by listing associated works underneath the primary result.

Unfortunately, both of these features have since been retired by Google. But their existence in the first place does seem to indicate that Google is measuring dwell time at the very least, and likely using it as a ranking signal.

How to increase dwell time

This one’s actually pretty simple: publish better content.

That’s obviously easier said than done, but increasing dwell time really is that simple.

If you want users to stick around on your page, make sure you’re actually answering whatever search query brought them there in the first place. If the content seems relevant to them at first glance, they’ll be more likely to stay on your page and read through everything.

Other than just producing high quality content, you can always enhance already-great content with elements like infographics, embedded videos, embedded audio, tools/quizzes, and so on.

Basically, anything that captures a user’s attention and allows them to engage with your content can increase the dwell time of a page.

Increase your revenue today and boost dwell time

If you’re looking for marketing strategies that increase your site’s dwell time across the board, we’d love to help.

WebFX is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps clients across the country to increase user engagement and dwell time. Our expert team of Internet marketers knows exactly what it takes to keep users on your website, and ultimately to boost your revenue.

Contact us today for more information or a free quote!